home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 9, 2005

Fred Couples


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to thank Fred Couples for coming by and spending a few minutes with us. Talk about your day so far and then your outlook for the rest of the week.

FRED COUPLES: Well, everyone knows, we got here, and unfortunately I can use the golf. I haven't been playing the last ten days, I guess, since I lost to Retief at The Match Play. But I've been told, I've been sitting with Mike Lane and Cliff Danley, and they think the course drains pretty quickly and I believe we have more rain coming in today and tomorrow.

So I don't really know how good or how bad it's going to be. But, it happens and most of the players will go do their deal and I just tried to find a little bit of a window to go hit balls and it started pouring again, so I think I'm packing it in. My wife is here so we're going to go do some stuff. She doesn't come to many tournaments, so maybe this is a blessing to go spend most of the day with her.

Q. Last year you were a little worried, you came in here and you were worried about the golf course and maybe it would be too tough or unfair. Through the tournament, what are your impressions?

FRED COUPLES: I think it was a lot like yesterday, the practice rounds if I'm not mistaken in the Pro-Am as very windy and the greens were very fast and firm, and the field staff set it up where it was playable; and you guys were here, there were several shots that looked good and they would roll over a green down an embankment. Once you get the skinny for that, you try and figure it out and as the week went on, I felt like the scores were pretty good, I believe 12-under won. But I don't think there were that many guys, you know, better than 7- or 8-under.

So we need that, but at that time I just felt like if the course got out of hand and the wind blew like that, we didn't stay hot and dry, any kind of shot that was slightly not hit perfect would probably roll over the green. You can always come up short, and I don't mean short of the green, I mean short of the pins and have 40-footers. But I felt like it ended up playing well, and I think when we left, everyone was a lot more happy than they were Tuesday and Wednesday, that's for sure.

Q. Is it a course that grows on you a little bit?

FRED COUPLES: Well, it's going to grow on us this year and we're gone, right. (Laughter.)

All of the courses we play, you can pick them all. If you remember the TPC, which is now probably one of the top tournaments anywhere, everyone complained and griped about that 15 and 20 years ago, and now we believe it's fabulous. So if we were to stay here, I couldn't foresee any problems. Fazio knows what he's doing. I just felt like even I came in here, and you don't want to play courses where you shoot 75 or 76 and you feel like you don't do a whole lot wrong. There's trouble out there, there's a lot of great driving holes, but you can stand from 170 yards on a lot of the holes and not get a ball close to the flag.

And I'm a big -- I played the Honda Classic most of the years or a good percentage of them and Cliff Danley does a great job. As you know this, week is another week where a lot of players didn't show up, but you've got to go with the ones who came. I think it's going to -- the cream always goes to the top, and Todd Hamilton ended up beating a top player by birdieing the last couple of holes. So it's all good, but I think what happens is a lot of times when you go to a course and it's set up like that, it kind of affects everybody, and the field staff I'm sure took that into mind. I think the scoring was pretty good.

Q. What impact do you think the rain and the weather will have on the course?

FRED COUPLES: First thing, sitting on the fairways, the fairways don't drain as well as the greens. So it's going to be longer, and I don't know, I didn't play yesterday but I heard the greens were pretty firm. So if the greens drain really well, they will still be receptive, but I think that will be the big adjustment, hitting longer clubs into some of these greens. As you know, last year it was windy, some of the holes played extremely short, and I think without any wind we're going to realize just how long the course can play. Because I don't know, you get a lot of times wind and big rains, but we got a lot of wind yesterday and we're getting a ton of rain today. But basically, if you had to ask everyone, I think they will tell you it's going to play a little easier just because you can actually stop the ball where you're looking, even if you're hitting a 4-iron versus a 6 or a 7.

Q. Do you think, there's been so much talk about it being a bomber's tour, will the bombers have a big advantage?

FRED COUPLES: I do. Even as long as the late 80s, I felt like you could just see better players, coming out of college and most now days, I don't know if any of you have gone to a college event, it's kind of ridiculous. They all hit it so far. I was just looking at some of the stats last week, and I think it was 286 or 287 was 61st in driving distance last week. Now, I wasn't there, I don't know, but 300 was 30th. I just feel like Doral is, quote, the Blue Monster, or whatever it's called, and most golf courses are tame. Then when you come and play a course like this, where it is different, where your ball will roll off and chipping is not very easy, you know, we kind of go ballistic.

Sometimes it's in a good way, but sometimes it's in a bad way and I think this week, I believe they have built a little more grass on some of the slopes, so the ball will not roll down as far. I think that's a good thing.

But at the same time, it's nice to play harder courses and I think, again, I was in here, too, on Tuesday or Wednesday complaining that it's just a little bit over the top and that they needed to be careful. But you want to protect all of the field and the play. You don't want guys out there taking six hours to play because balls are rolling all over. So it's not so much -- the good players are going to shoot good scores. They are going to figure it out. But I just feel like the ball is going so far that a lot of these holes and courses are dramatically changed. I'm sure you guys were there last week, it didn't look like -- and again, you always look at the top, but it didn't look like those guys were hitting many long irons except in the par 5s. If you're a guy like Tom Fazio when he comes, I mean, he knew he was building a golf course for a PGA TOUR event. He's got to try and do something, otherwise, 20-under would win here, too, unless we got a lot of wind.

I think when you take wind, any course plays hard. So I never justify that answer. If it would have been blowing 20 miles an hour last week at Doral, Phil and Tiger wouldn't have been that far ahead and 16- or 17-under probably would have won instead of 24.

Q. You were at La Costa, and then you played Nissan before that; right?

FRED COUPLES: Well, yeah.

Q. Now you've come out here and there's another day cancelled because of rain, are you guys starting to go through a little bit of rain fatigue at this point in the season?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I will tell you this much; that Nissan was really, really an unfortunate week. It's my favorite tournament. I can't remember the scenario, but I believe that I played Friday morning and finished, so I had my 36 holes out of the way, and then I sat around all day Saturday, played because of my tee time two holes on Sunday and then Monday they had everyone out there.

So, that was not too much fun. And yeah, fatigue of sitting and getting -- I mean, for me just sitting around, you get sore and it lasts a long time. And when I really feel well, I can go periods of time when I watch myself. But when you're at a tournament, there's nowhere to go. You can't go to your hotel room because they are trying -- any kind of chance, they are going to rush you right back out there.

And of course then La Costa, I got in there because the tournament starts Wednesday, I got in there to play and the course was kind of closed one day but then they opened it so I went to practice at TaylorMade. And then I believe Wednesday they cancelled, and it was so wet, I just felt like it would be a waste of time. Although, several people played. Then I just played my first match and it was so wet, and tough, I ended up winning that and then I lost to Retief Goosen. But that was almost 12 days of playing really four rounds of golf; when you're there to play nine or ten rounds, and it wasn't too easy.

Q. It had been floated out there, Tiger was the one that brought it up, that maybe Florida and California ought to switch some of their dates.

FRED COUPLES: You know, that's a great question. I think what really is -- if I can go off that in a minute.

I think what's going around, is it's all perfect timing because what happened last week and everyone's got their opinions. Just in my opinion, was a rare feat for the PGA TOUR, and you can say, well, any tournament that has Phil and Tiger in the last group is going to be a huge success; obviously.

But when you get nine of the Top-10 players at a tournament, I don't know of any tournament that's not going to have two of those guys playing in the last group. I mean, that's the way golf. You get younger guys or middle-aged guys, they are all great players, but you had Vijay Singh I think finished -- I don't know what he finished, third or fourth; David Toms, Retief Goosen had a great last round. But still, they were all up there.

So to answer your question, I think what we really need to look at is how can we get that more often. Because I'm at home, I'm trying to practice and I'm cutting my practice short to go see what they are doing and then I'd drive back out and then I would come back. I think they said the last 40 minutes had an 8 rating. That's what -- again, I'm 45. I don't play that much but I really look to the players and I respect all of the play. What I really respect is the sponsors, and in a roundabout way, I think the TOUR, they are doing their best to figure all of this out.

But it's been the same so long, but as a guy on the inside and also on the outside looking in, that needs to happen a lot more often. And it has nothing to do -- even if Tiger wasn't in the last group, he was going to be in the second to last group and he was still going to be right there. We need everyone's input, but if that happens once a year besides the majors and these World events, I just don't feel like that's enough when you have almost -- I mean, we start January 1 and we end at some obscene time. You know, I'm not saying his words, because I've been preaching this the whole time, I would like to see a lot of different things happen and one of them would be, to be quite honest, when you get fields like that, I think the purse should go up. And when you get fields that are weaker, the purse should go down.

And so therefore, we can get great players making a lot of money, and I think they are the ones who hold the Tour up. And you can also get younger players making money if they play that way. Eight years ago, David Toms was not in the top 5, and eight years ago Tiger was 20 years old, but at the same time they are all going to go and other guys are going to come.

When you have, again, that kind of a field, it's got to be different. I'm at the Honda tournament, so I can only speak for me. I'm worried about how I'm going to play. I love Cliff Danley to death. We have a great time, we chitchat. But you're going to get whatever you get. I think this isn't going to be as great a tournament as Doral, but I'm in it, so I think it's a great tournament. (Laughter.) So I'm not slapping Honda, because we are so, so lucky to have all of our sponsors, but, I mean, they would give away a fleet of cars to have an 8 rating on Sunday; and Tiger does that and so does Phil.

But if we kept saying you can't play every week, you can't play every week, I don't know what the answers are. But I do believe that we need as a group not just the Tour, but the players need to figure out how we can not play more but get in what I consider to be better fields. I mean, the truth hurts. You guys travel with the tour, you know what tournaments you like and what ones you don't like. You know what tournaments are going to have a better field. You're not stupid and neither are we. I think when Tiger says, "I want to play against the better fields more often," we ought it take a little look at that and say, well he's not the only one, but he's got the podium to speak. I think Jack Nicklaus had it 30 years ago when he played against great players. He never tried to change the TOUR. He could have easily done it, but I think we have so many tournaments now that I agree with everything all of these guys are saying; it all can't be the same. You cannot have all of these tournaments be the same.

Q. Do you remember the first time you played with Vijay, and could you talk about how you've seen his game evolve and improve over the years?

FRED COUPLES: Well, Vijay has always been a great ball-striker. I do remember that. I don't even know how long Vijay has been on TOUR. He's 40 or 41, so I don't know when he came in.

Q. '92, '93.

FRED COUPLES: So really -- I came on in '80, '81, and that's -- when he came on, you know, you just know guys are going to be good. This good? I don't know. I certainly think he's ridden the wave and he's not going to get off of it, but when he first started, I believe he was a real good player. I think maybe his short game kept him from doing this in the first years on TOUR. And he works very hard, as we know, and I have a lot of respect for Vijay and his game, just like I do a lot of guys. But you can see why he's better than 100% or 99% of players. You go watch him play and he very rarely misses shots. He's much more consistent on the greens and around them. When you start doing that, your scores starting to down every single round, and then you become a top player.

Last year was an unbelievable year, but I think doable, and by him, easily. Phil could do it this year. Tiger's done it a couple of times. But not many guys can do that. I just see the top players, I don't think Ernie plays enough on our tour, or someone like Davis who is slowing down a little bit, but to win seven or eight or ten times is ridiculous. It's just phenomenal stuff.

Q. On the subject of who is here and who is not, what are your thoughts about how appearance money might affect that; should it affect it and what direction that issue might be headed?

FRED COUPLES: Great question. You know, I think it's all touchy because there's so many good players on the TOUR, and if a guy does something for the tournament or if he doesn't, I think it's not really too many people's business. But if it comes out, everyone's going to know and some players can get offended. Then what's going to happen is some guys are going to come to an event and not get appearance fee, and then the next year they are going to say, well, you wanted me this year but you didn't want me last year and this guy got money, and so then it all breaks up again.

What I think we really need to do is we really need to take it in our hands and figure out how we can go about doing this. Because the TOUR really feels like they are doing everything they can. They have pension money, they have the St. Paul, if you play more, they have money distributed throughout the year. But I've really never heard anyone on TV say I've got to play next week because if I do, I'm going to get a lot more money for my pension plan. I do hear people say, I had the greatest time because of the field and I feel like I finished fifth and that was unbelievable to play like that against this field. That's what I want to hear. I don't really care much about all of these incentive plans. That's me. I'm not speaking for 145 guys.

So getting back to the field, no matter what you do, there are going to be strong fields and weak fields, but somehow, there are a lot of other great sports and people want to come see the best players. I think if you're Honda, who I have a lot of respect for, and they do a great job and they support our tour, they want to see three more guys, or five more guys.

But if it came down to, you know, paying six guys to come, I just don't know why that would be wrong. Because I go to outings all the time, and if I make a certain amount of money, this other guy that's playing in the group behind me is making more or less because of what they have done or who they are. And when you go to a tournament, if I'm the Honda guys, I'm not just going to give in, but I'm going to look at it and say, geez, if we can do that, maybe we'll get three or four guys to come. And at the end of the week, they can look at it and say, well, did we do better or did we not. I think if they get 5 ratings and 6 ratings, they are going to look at it in a better way.

So is it a right way? I can't say yeah or nay. Is it a way that if you're a young player and looking at the four, five, six guys that came here and get paid, I see no way they can look at that wrongly because those are the guys that are giving them a chance to play for $5 million. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay, David Toms, Davis Love, those guys are plastered all over the Internet, they are plastered all over the PGA TOUR, they are asked to go play events. I'm leaving guys out, but you know who they are, they are asked to do this and do that. And really, we're golfers, so when we go to an event, you pick and choose. I think we have so many tournaments that you know you're just going to fall into place and not all of them can be like the TPC or the World Match Play, or even one like Doral.

But in a way, it's all of our faults because we have so many events, Tiger Woods is going to play in how many tournaments, do you know? 20. What 20 are those going to be? The same 20 he played in last year and then the same ones he played the year before. What does that tell you? I mean, he's got a schedule. You guys have a schedule. You're not going to go to 50 tournaments. You're going to go to the ones you're available to go to and sometimes you may go to one or two more. When you get these guys that are so busy and they have so much to do, they just can't go to tournaments because they are really asked to.

I believe that if they are the ones making the TOUR go, it's obvious that when they play, those tournaments are better. So how can we get Tiger Woods to play in three more events? Well, if you cut the schedule back and you made it fair for Tiger Woods, because he's got a Money List he's worried about, he's got all of these things, World Rankings and all of that, I think they are all important and they all have a lot to do with events.

But when I come, again, to a tournament, I feel like anyone who can win a PGA TOUR event has got great golf. I'm not just saying that when you go to Doral you need to look at Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. I mean, Geoff Ogilvy is a great player; he just won at Tucson. He won in a playoff. You've got to par or birdie holes coming in, and you have to do really well so my hat is off to him. But I don't think that if a guy wins a lesser tournament that he should be paid the same that was like at Doral. That's my spiel on the whole thing.

Q. You guys have had such an extraordinary wet winter in southern California, I was just wondering how that's impacted just getting ready for this season and if you have any personal horror stories of property damage or whatnot?

FRED COUPLES: Property damage, I do live in Santa Barbara and yeah, I have experienced a partial mudslide.

But for the golf part of it, you know, again, there's Carmel, which I think we had decent weather, but it's such a great tournament. And Phoenix had high winds; and L.A. had I don't know, more rain than they have had in 100 years, and San Diego had fog that we finally played through on the last day.

I don't know, if we go back there next year and we play in late March, all March if it's going to be any better, because now we're here and we're getting rain here. But the horror stories, really, it's just part of the deal. I think the biggest horror story on the West Coast was really L.A. only playing 36 holes and not having a full tournament. But other than that, we got through it. David Toms won The Match Play, played phenomenal golf on a real soppy course, but I think the TOUR is thriving. I believe in the TOUR and I just think it cannot stay the same for the rest of our lives.

And right now, to harp on it for one more second, it's just that I've been told several times that it's the players' tour and I think when you get in any business the top guys chirping, everyone should really listen. And that doesn't mean that Tiger Woods wants to run the PGA TOUR, but he pretty much is going to be around a while, and then what he sets pace for is some 18-year-old right now in college that is going to be the next Tiger Woods and it might be easier on him. Because no great players play 26 to 30 times. Vijay does, but it's just uncommon. If you look at the top players, they play 22 or 24 times. That means 20 events are going to be softened.

I have no problem with any of that. I just feel like again what I saw last week was a lot of fun to watch. Whether it had been Vijay and Tiger or Thomas and Tiger or any of those guys, because they are our best players. So any time you get the best players battling for a tournament, it's as good as the Masters or TPC.

Q. Did you watch the final round?

FRED COUPLES: Literally I was in Palm Springs, and I was running in and running out and running in and running out. I think I stopped, I don't know, after the 14th hole, is that where Phil made back-to-back birdies? Then I went in to practice and I figured I can watch the highlights.

JOHN BUSH: Thanks for coming by. Play well this week.

End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297